Veterinary medicine is a popular career path for animal lovers with great learning opportunities for prospective students. Although the salary for veterinarians is high, many students struggle with knowing how to pay for vet school. Knowing how to afford vet school without federal loans or private loans is a game-changer for new students.
It may seem daunting, but there are ways to pay for vet school without loans that can help you achieve your career goals to succeed in your profession as a vet. There are many financing options available that lower the financial burden of professional students and allow them to pursue their careers without financial stress.
How Much Does Vet School Cost?
As reported by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the average annual cost of attendance for vet school ranges between $170,742 and $289,597. The average cost of vet school varies depending on different factors, including the school’s location, fees, undergraduate degree program, and other related educational and living expenses.
The availability of institutional financial aid and student loan forgiveness programs lessens the financial burden of this high cost, especially for international students who have to pay for more traveling and accommodation expenses.
Can I Pay for Vet School Without Loans?
Yes, you can pay for vet school without loans. Vet school loans are not always an ideal financing option for students, as getting into student loan debt in vet school can mean owing a lot of money after graduation. It can become financially and mentally overwhelming for many students. There are several other ways to pay for vet school without private student loans.
Top 5 Tips to Avoid Vet School Loans
- Plan ahead of time. If you’re planning on going to vet school, do extensive research on where you want to study, the expected cost, and how to pay it. Not only will you be able to set financial goals to optimize your financial health, but you will be able to pay off your expenses efficiently and avoid veterinary school loans.
- Learn online. If you want to save thousands of dollars on your total education cost, opt for an online degree program. Many universities offer online programs for students that help avoid housing, travel, and in-person costs.
- Part-time jobs. It’s possible to work while attending vet school. High-paying part-time jobs can help you generate some extra cash and pay off expenses as you study. However, vet school can be quite demanding, so be careful not to overwhelm yourself.
- Choose an affordable school. If you want to refrain from heavy educational debt and monthly payments, choose an affordable vet school for yourself. Choose a school where you can cover the total vet school tuition with your available resources.
- Seek help from family. If you’re unable to cover the cost of tuition by yourself, consider reaching out to relatives for financial support. Applying to vet school can be an overwhelming endeavor, and you should never feel ashamed for needing help or guidance. Receiving a little extra pocket money can go a long way.
How to Pay for Vet School: 8 Ways to Pay for Vet School
1. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Although it’s preferable to avoid loans, sometimes it’s inevitable. Applying for FAFSA as early as possible will determine your eligibility for financial aid programs and identify if you qualify for a federal student loan. Once you’ve met the requirements for a federal student loan, you might need to submit an additional application for scholarship aid and personalized service.
You can fill out your FAFSA for free by visiting the official website. Refresh the page often and pay very close attention to details because once a deadline is crossed, they do not provide you with any leverage. It’s wise to be prompt in the loan applications submission process because applicants are served on a first-come, first-serve basis.
An affordable way to pay for a veterinary program is through scholarships. As opposed to loans, you do not have to repay the amount after graduation. Scholarship program availability varies from school to school, and you can learn about your eligibility for scholarships by visiting the financial aid office, the school’s website, or the official website of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Many private scholarship programs exist outside of educational institutions and provide sufficient financial aid to vet students. These include American Veterinary Medical Foundation Scholarships, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation, and the Jim Steere Memorial Veterinary Student Scholarship. You can find their eligibility requirements on their official websites.
Both federal and private grants are viable sources of funding for students. Similar to scholarships, you do not need to pay back grants and the amount varies greatly depending on the offered program. You could receive any amount, from $100 to a full-ride scholarship. For veterinary schools, you can search for subject-based grants offered by different organizations.
4. Employer Tuition Assistance (ETA)
If you are working for an organization, you can apply for Employer Tuition Assistance (ETA). ETA refers to the educational assistance program offered by some companies in which the employer funds partial or full educational expenses for their employee. To benefit from this program, your educational expenditures and program must comply with the company’s ETA policies.
5. Income Share Agreements
A feasible alternative to student loans is an income share agreement, which allows students to get funds from their school or college without accruing interest. However, you must agree to pay back the amount once you get a job and a certain percentage of your income is used to repay the utilized funds.
The rate remains fixed throughout the repayment process. If your vet school offers this program, you must meet the eligibility criteria. Under this agreement, the school covers partial or full educational costs throughout the enrollment period, which could include tuition fees, boarding, and accommodation expenses.
It is wise to start a personal savings account for educational purposes that you can use to pay for vet school. Your parents might have set aside money for your higher education that can be used to finance your vet school education. This is a smart payment option because there is no interest charged on your savings, and you do not have to pay them back.
7. Work-Study Programs
If you want to finance your educational expenditures by yourself, you can benefit from students’ work-study programs. These programs allow students to work part-time during their education and earn while they are enrolled in veterinary college.
This program offers flexible schedules for students to manage their work-life balance. You have the possibility of finding an on-campus, off-campus, or remote job to earn some extra cash. One thing to remember is that you can’t exceed the earning limit determined by the Department of Education under the work-study award, so make sure you have another source of income.
8. Earning College Credits in High School
To lower the burden of your educational cost and workload, you can earn college credits during your high school education. The biggest benefit of earning college credits in high school is that you do not have to pay for the same courses at college. Since the cost of college credits is usually higher than high school credits, it saves you money and time.
The two most popular ways of earning college credits are Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). You can take any of the programs while choosing relevant courses and taking exams. Veterinary schools usually acknowledge AP and IB credits earned during high school, but you may need to consult with your school for details.
Is Going to Vet School Worth It?
Yes, going to vet school is worth it. It is a growing field with a large number of job openings for professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 17 percent growth in this profession from 2020 to 2030, which accounts for around 86,800 job openings per year in this field.
Being a veterinarian can open doors to many employment opportunities for you on different levels. Do your research, seek guidance from industry professionals, and run a personal analysis to decide whether going to vet school is worth it for you or not.
How to Pay for Vet School FAQ
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average veterinarian salary is $100,370, although it is possible to earn as much as $165,600 per year. If you must take out private student loans, your high annual salary allows you to pay off your educational debt in a reduced amount of time.
It can take graduate students around 20 to 25 years to pay off vet school debt, although this depends on the loan term you took out and your future annual salary. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average debt for vet school students was $150,000 in 2020. There are repayment assistance programs to help you absorb these costs.
Yes, there are several student loan repayment assistance programs to help you pay off your debts quickly. These include the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, the Faculty Loan Repayment Program, and the Army Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program. There are loan information sessions to determine their eligibility requirements.
There are many requirements to become a veterinarian, such as getting the proper education. It’s extremely helpful to gain experience working as an associate veterinarian or in related fields such as clinics, hospitals, and laboratories. After your studies, you must receive a state license to become eligible for practice.
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